Rhythm, Sound & Beat: Our Genetic Cadences

For all of you music enthusiasts. Certainly for any of you drummers, you maestros of rhythm, or Lords of the Skins!

Here is the mystery:  If the rhythm is right, if the translation between inner mood and the drum membrane are perfect, then you know it instantly. “Ah, this goes with my body tempo, this connects how I feel today, how fast my heart is beating, what my thoughts are, what my hands feel like.” Drumming on the Edge of Magic: A Journey Into the Spirit of Percussion, by Micky Hart, Fredric Lieberman and Jay Stevens (1990)

I was inspired yesterday by a fellow blogger and musician (Ark)—if he considers drummers “musicians” (wink)—to write this post about how natural, how biologically embedded rhythm, patterns in sound vibrations, and beats or pulse are to the human neurology. Maybe it is different for percussionists and maybe it isn’t, the mathematics of rhythm that is, and how almost endlessly it can be shifted, divided, multiplied, or derived from previous… well, derivatives. The patterns, rhythms, and beats often have a common denominator, a baseline if you will. Yet, it is wonderfully and by no means permanent.

When the rhythm is right you feel it with all your senses, every corner of your soul and being. You don’t fight it, but instead allow yourself to be propelled and consumed by its insistent yet familiar feeling. All sense of the present moment disappears, the normal categories of time become meaningless. — Ibid

There are 12 distinct components or moods and pulses in this following 9-minute instrumental entitled La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence). It is a human journey in sleep by a man with a lucid imagination coupled with a propensity for some extreme anxiety and/or tranquility. The epic song by Rush is from the very apropos cerebral album HemispheresOne of the tranquil components:  To Sleep, Perchance to Dream… and anxious components:  Monsters! and Monsters! (Reprise) both adaptations of a 1937 Raymond Scott jazz instrumental. I cannot fully express how masterful this piece is in complex mathematical drumming and syncopation by one Lord of the Skins that should give any percussion aficionado goose-bumps, Neil Peart!

We live on a planet of rhythm and time. A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours. These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night. The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum. When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being. It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection [to this cyclical planet and the celestial heavens in which it and we revolves]. — Ibid

Medical studies repeatedly show that getting your heart-rate up drumming or dancing, or both, for just 30 minutes a day is equal to one anti-depressant pill. My own studies have shown that dueling and complimenting another drummer on her/his kit (below) is equivalent to two pills of euphoria… similar to ecstasy, but better! And naturally legal! Can you imagine how healthy it is participating in a drum-circle with dancing!? Exercise! Get down and hard, get steamy sweaty!

Or if you prefer something more indigenous, reflective of our evolutionary roots, more primal, more Latin, then I give you Evening Samba by Mickey Hart and his indigenous percussion ensemble:

How about something highly erotic that reaches deep inside to the twisted Sorcerer/Sorceress unleashing a beast inside? And then hits your natural release, the endorphins to help carry us away, floating while time stands still, A Different Drum:

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Drum & Dance Always

Creative Commons License
Blog content with this logo by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://professortaboo.com/contact-me/.

You’re Right

The state of meditation is a powerful vessel.  A connected state-of-mind and body to dimensional existence is about as meaningful a life as a person can reach; an altered or altering consciousness.  But a person cannot reach that point solo.  We also need the right surroundings.
(line break)

* * * * * * * * * *

image Vladstudio

image Vladstudio

Growing up I loved playing my drum-set.  In our downstairs playroom I had my 15-piece drum kit setup along with our band’s Peavey amps.  Plugged-in to those Peavey amps was my stereo.  Through my stereo I played the songs from epic rock-metal bands with more epic – so I thought – drummers.  And within moments of beating the skins, high-hat, bass drum, and cymbals…I was there.  Much of the sessions I would reach a heart-rate and drive that I could barely hold my sticks from the perspiration.  I eventually had to place a fan on top of my bass drum to help cool my frenzied journey.  I would reach such a vibrational rhythmic state of meditation that I can only describe as fluid between here and there.  My sense of place and time, aside from the rhythm and beat, was lost; oblivious to anything in the house or outside it.  It was there that my expression, my place in the moment and in the world, was most creative and most lucid.  It was – and to this day as well – my way of belonging.

The years from 1990 to 1995 were the most devastating and most life-changing years of my life.  Here’s a summary:  My father committed suicide, my girlfriend-turned-fiancé abandoned me and our 2-year relationship without a single verbalized explanation, I was arrested by law-enforcement, I walked out of my wonderful psych-hospital job-career and out of my half-completed master’s program at my seminary, my daughter was born, a 5-month marriage ended, and I moved back to my hometown.  Often during those years I sought the solace in the one place I knew I could find it.  One song I’d play over and over and over, and behind my drums I’d play along…let go of my nagging thoughts and find my place of belonging.  It was the only song, music, and lyrics that would make sense to me where I could find my father and my daughter, both of whom were no longer with me.

 

I have since learned that finding the place of belonging is sometimes very difficult, even tragic.  But having survived it all, I have discovered just how powerful the state-of-belonging and connecting can impact not just a life, my life, but life around us.  This is how I’ve equated it in my mind.  As the lyrics of the song go…

If you open your mind [and soul]…You won’t rely on open eyes to see

My painful and beautiful journey would not have been possible if I had not had three critical travel-items:  my parents and extended family, a creative growth-model of education taught by my father supported by my mother, and then finally love.  These three integral parts must continue with us into adulthood.  They must evolve and grow in order to best manage in life the inevitable change and unexpected plot-twists!

If you have those three flexing growing components in your life – each illustrated mathematically by dividing 100 into 3 parts – the number cannot be emptied but goes on and on ad infinitum.  For me, Fibonacci’s Sequence, or Golden Ratiowould be the counter-part, if you comprehend my wackiness.

The three parts each need more than just the mind or cerebral cortex.  They need feelings.  They need the freedom of fluid creative passion!  Nature and the Universe (Multiverse) already create then modify, refine, then create more and so on like the Golden Ratio.  Human DNA, generation to generation, does the same thing.  As highly intelligent feeling beings, we have the passions to ignite life.  If fortunate enough to have loving, nurturing yet non-oppressive parents and family, then we are given the early tools to ignite a significant belonging life…not just for ourselves, but equipped to provide a general blueprint for others too!

If this parental-family environment is taught throughout the primary and secondary schooling – in other words explained via the table below – empowering the child and adolescent, then the state of belonging can be perpetuated outside of self.

Learning Method table

Assuming you are allowed how to think rather than told what to think, then a once very successful American icon spoke these words of enormous spiritual-cerebral wisdom to take on your journey:

“Whether you think you can or you think you cannot – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

If a young mind and heart are constantly denied the means to freely express, create, and recreate, learn and relearn for an eventual greater good, passing on a new fluid blueprint, then it would seem ironically, one becomes entrapped in the past.  That is most unnatural.  Ford recognized the power of self-actualization learned through and from our environment.  In other words, there is a connection between us and everything around us.  But there is more Henry – another force that is just as fluid.

Ford’s imparted partial-truth cannot be fully owned without the sticky fuel of feelings and love-ingredients to energize it.  There are some things that can’t be taught.  They must be realized.  Though it had a compass rose, I was given my blank map.  The natural aether in the lucid state of vibrant rhythmic meditation is an individual journey…for me discovered during my youth, rediscovered in my darkest hours, and now openly shared in wisdom and passion.  It is my primal home away from “home,” where I truly belong.

I swim in it regularly.

(paragraph break)

Live Well  *  Love Much  *  Laugh Often  *  Learn Always

(paragraph break)

Creative Commons License
This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://professortaboo.wordpress.com.

A Progression of Percussion

Egyptian stone motif c. 3000 BCE

How far can time be broken down?  How many different tempos can be part of one tempo?  There may be a few viewers unable to fully appreciate this drumming journey as much as a fanatical drummer will.  Hopefully, my tribe-of-the-skins will!  Send any of your drumming friends by!  They like me, who are instantly moved from ear,  to arms, to fingers, to the heartbeat, then to the hips and finally to the feet… there is no cure for rhythmic-addiction, especially if it took hold of your body and soul at the age of six.  Don’t bother finding me a RA support group (Rhythmics Anonymous) because I am an energized kinetic-lifer!

Written in an earlier post In My Tribe, there is a spiritual connection between a drum’s membrane or the drumhead, the various sound waves it produces, and the conduit it travels to the heart, soul and the rest of the body.  Former drummer of the Grateful Dead and now a professor of percussion’s ancient roots, Micky Hart joins the greater cosmic rhythms symbiotically into our body’s natural rhythms; he describes:

We live on a planet of rhythm and time.  A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours.  These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night.  The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum.  When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being.  It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection.

As many parents do with their kids, I was enrolled in instrumental lessons of some sort; Mom named me after her favorite guitarist, so naturally I was going to learn the guitar.  But as fate would have it inside my practice room at the nearby Brook Mays Music Store, I heard the pounding of my calling next door in their practice room not mine.  Done.  Once Mom realized that she could not get me back over to the guitar, she gave in and scheduled my first drum lesson!  As a boy, the first step in becoming a percussionist is learning the basic rudiments.  Boring?  At that time yes, but in hindsight it was most assuredly the right move.  To drummers-percussionists, precise syncopated rhythms are not just important, indeed they are sacred — holy, transfusing sound pushing us to a Greater High.  By high school marching band, I was playing the Quads.  I wished our percussion line was an eighth as good as this drumline and flag corp below from Basel, Switzerland or the more laid-back Hip Hop drumline after.  Notice the near infinite various independent rhythms all simultaneously woven into one primal tempo.


More liberal and not as ‘formal’ as drum corps is the no less exquisite tempos of the drum kits and their Masters.  Growing up my Lord of Percussion was the renown Neil Peart of the Canadian rock band, Rush.  Not only is Neil a phenomenal drummer like Swiss clockwork, but an even more accomplished lyricist.  When one of my soccer teammates first introduced Rush to me, like candy or ice cream to a child,  I could not get enough!  Neil’s unworldly precision and syncopation between his two hands and two feet, all four beating out hypnotic sound, I thought “Wow, so this is what drum-heaven is like!” — to this very day La Villa Strangiato is regarded as one of Peart’s eternal creations.  The following video is not Neil Peart but another excellent drummer demonstrating the beautiful complexity of the 1978 song.  It is not the full 9:30 minute version of the song, but a highlight of the most advanced rhythms perhaps Neil ever created.  If you would like to listen to the entire song click here.  The full version has a mind-blowing amount of time changes, tempo changes, mood changes, and several music genres mixed in that would challenge Mozart’s comprehension!  But this video grabs the highlights…

Percussion is not limited to corporate designed and manufactured musical cylinders and heads.  Many everyday items lying around the home or office, inside and out can be instantly turned into a drum or percussion instrument.  Perhaps you’ve heard of The Blue Man Group or another theatrical show named Stomp.  Watch how the latter use almost anything imaginable to turn mundane objects into an industrial orchestra…

Finally, I arrive at a most aggressive form of drumming that seizes my beast-of-rhythm just as equally as drum and bugle corps shows.  I had a very difficult decision between ending this blog with my 2nd most favorite drummer, Danny Carey of the metal band Tool…or the live drum kit duel between Sulley Erna and Shannon Larkin, both of Godsmack.  Erna and Larkin won out, but needless to say searching Danny Carey of Tool on YouTube is in my drumming opinion definitely worth a look.  Not to mention that many famous drummers in jazz, blues, rock, and metal started as percussionists either in high school marching bands, or in the nationally and internationally competitive Drum & Bugle Corps championships.  Drawing the curtain on this post, I hope I have opened up a tiny view into the emotion, force, and spirit of percussion, at least as it comes from inside my soul.  Enjoy…

(paragraph separation)


Creative Commons License
This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://professortaboo.wordpress.com.